The Eye of Horus

Whenever offerings are presented to the Egyptian gods it is customary to say “I give to you the Eye of Horus,” which refers to a very ancient myth. Once, long before men inhabited the earth, the gods called Egypt their home. Originally Rē had governed the gods with goodness and wisdom as their king, but as time passed he grew old and feeble and tired of listening to the quarrels and complaints of his divine subjects. So one day Rē left the earth to reside forever in the peaceful solitude of the heavens, but unfortunately Rē had not chosen his successor before he went away. Thus the gods fell to fighting amongst themselves in order to determine who would be king. Eventually only two contenders remained – the strongest, fiercest and most courageous of all the gods, the brothers Horus and Seth, each of whom was the equal of the other in every way imaginable. Because they were so evenly matched it seemed as if their battle would rage on forever and the gods and the land were suffering terribly as a result. Then one day while the two of them were wrestling Seth grabbed the eye of Horus and plucked it out, maiming and making impotent his brother. Before his power completely left him, however, Horus reached out and crushed the testicles of Seth. As the two gods lay there weak and bleeding out their lives Thoth appeared and said, “I am Thoth strong-in-magic, and I can heal your wounds with a single word! But if I do so then your hearts must be purified of anger, with peace between you and flourishing once more in the land.” They had no choice but to agree and it has been that way ever since.

The word that Thoth spoke to restore the gods was hotep which can mean either an offering, a blessing, wholeness or peace – sometimes it can even mean all of these at once. Thus every time that we sacrifice to the gods we are reenacting what Thoth did for Horus and Seth. Hence sacrifices are called “The Eye of Horus” and “The Testicles of Seth” in Egyptian sources. These sacrifices restored the gods, made them whole, healthy, powerful and peaceful hearted. 

Consequently they became kindly disposed towards us and cause the earth to be fruitful with blessings. Thus sacrificing to the gods is the single most important thing that a person can do, for when the gods are deprived and angry the whole world suffers.

What sort of things constitute the Eye of Horus? Well, to begin with we find this label – or rather irt-Hr W3dt ”The Green Eye of Horus” – most commonly applied to alcoholic offerings, with various types of beer, wine and other beverages indicated. These libations were made to both the gods and the ancestors – indeed having plenty to drink was one of the signs of an especially blessed afterlife, with numerous spells created for that purpose alone. Though libations were given to all of the gods we find them associated with none as frequently as we do Horus, to the point where his fondness for alcohol led some late authors to speculate on the identity of Horus and Dionysos. And by all accounts Horus’ fondness for drink has persisted into modern times. A variety of contemporary Kemetic websites suggest vodka, whiskey, gin and rum in addition to beer and wine. I’ve had the greatest success with rum which he seems to be especially fond of.

But alcohol is not the only substance we find described as The Green Eye of Horus – as one might guess it encompassed all forms of fruit and vegetables, anything that was green, growing and fertile. In fact offering scenes often depict tables piled high with produce, particularly grapes, dates, figs, onions, lettuce and the like.

Additionally we find many different kinds of grain, loaves of bread and special sacrificial cakes on the offering table as well. The commonest of these cakes – called a shat-cake – was shaped like an isosceles triangle and had to be laid on its side and stacked head to tail. These cakes were so important that we find baking scenes depicted on temple and mortuary walls. There are a number of recipes available for a variety of sacrificial cakes – but in my experience Horus is just as happy with a good crusty loaf of bread, especially if it’s multigrain with lots of seeds on top.

Frequently one also finds beef, fowl and other forms of meat offered to Horus. The notable exception is pig’s flesh which was only given to a select few Egyptian gods and under no circumstances was ever offered to Horus. This is because the pig was generally considered a ritually impure animal and Horus is definitely a stickler for the rules. Secondly, and more importantly, Seth took on the shape of a boar during their battle so offering the animal’s flesh to him is just going to be a reminder of their original animosity.

Incense is frequently described as the Eye of Horus or is said to purify and restore his Eye, so you should definitely consider offering this to him. A good Egyptian temple blend or Kyphi would work, as would strong, masculine or solar scents.

There were lots of other non-food related items presented to Horus in antiquity. These included images of hawks, representations of the Horus Eye, ankhs, winged solar discs, jewelry, gold, silver, votive figurines, etc. Since the sun and moon are his right and left eyes respectively you can offer him representations of these. Also, Horus wore the White Crown of Upper Egypt, so anything in this color makes for an appropriate offering, as does solar colors like gold, yellow, bronze, etc. One color to avoid would be red since this belonged to Seth and had certain dangerous and unpleasant connotations for the ancients. Blue as the color of the heavens or green because of its ritual connotations would also be acceptable. Some totally modern offerings that many Kemetics give to Horus today include: tobacco, metal, fire and spicy foods.

In my experience Horus enjoys very physical activities carried out in his honor – dancing, running, martial arts training, mountain climbing and so forth. Anything that gets the blood bumping and sweat flowing. Best of all, though, he appreciates when we fight for what we believe in, live justly and help those who are less fortunate than us.

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